Fred DeLuca, President and founder of sandwich maker Subway, smiles during an interview in a Subway restaurant at "Solna Centrum" in Stockholm on March 10, 2011.  The self-made billionaire who heads up sandwich maker Subway, now the world's largest fast food chain in terms of restaurants, never thought his operation would become bigger than McDonald's.   "It was just a way to pay my way through college," Fred DeLuca, who started his business at age 17, told AFP at a newly opened restaurant in Stockholm on March 10.  AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Fred DeLuca, CEO and co-founder of sandwich maker Subway, in a Subway restaurant at "Solna Centrum" in Stockholm on March 10, 2011.
Jonathan Nackstrand—AFP/Getty Images
September 15, 2015 2:56 PM EDT

Subway co-founder and CEO, Fred DeLuca, died on Monday night at the age of 67, the Associated Press reported.

DeLuca had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2013 and was reducing his leadership role at the company while he received treatment. His sister, Suzanne Greco, became president of the company earlier this summer to oversee day-to-day operations.

DeLuca passed away just weeks after Subway’s 50th anniversary. He opened his first sandwich shop in 1965 when he was 17 years old, following the suggestion of family friend and co-founder Peter Buck. Buck gave him $1,000 to start the business so that DeLuca could fund his college education.

The first store was located in Bridgeport, Conn., and was called “Pete’s Super Submarines,” where sandwiches sold for no more than 69 cents. The owners changed the name to “Subway” in 1968 and decided to grow the business by franchising.

The business grew exponentially, reaching 2,000 locations by 1988 and quadrupling that number by 1994. Today Subway has over 44,000 locations.

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